Nigeria vs Bosnia-Herzegovina: Edin Dzeko is 'as important as Lionel Messi'

Manchester City man must fire his team to victory, says coach

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The Independent Football

He played a leading role in Manchester City’s spring title charge in the Premier League and now his national coach is hoping for a similar impact from Edin Dzeko at the World Cup.

Safet Susic, coach of Bosnia, said that Dzeko had a vital part to play if the World Cup newcomers were to bounce back from an opening loss to Argentina when they faced Nigeria in Cuiaba on Saturday.

"He is equally important to us as Cristiano Ronaldo is for Portugal, as Neymar is to Brazil, as [Lionel] Messi to Argentina," Susic said. "That is how important he is to us."

Dzeko, who hit 16 Premier League goals last season, has a prolific record at international level with 35 goals from 63 games – 10 of those in Bosnia’s historic qualifying campaign. One of the prominent questions for Bosnia coach Susic ahead of their second Group F fixture, however, is whether he will be partner Dzeko with Vedad Ibisevic, who came off the bench to score against Argentina in Rio last Sunday.

 In qualifying Susic played with the two players up top but sounded a cautious note ahead of the match with a Nigeria side who will be looking to make amends for a disappointing goalless draw with Iran.

"We are not the kind of team able to play for a goalless draw but we just can’t throw caution to the wind against the Nigerians because they are rock-solid at the back and dangerous on the break," Susic said. "I still haven’t decided what the formation will be and whether to play Ibisevic from the start because we cannot afford to be naive."

Ibisevic himself, scorer of eight goals in qualifying, is raring to go. "I hope the team have now realised that we can play – even against such opponents [as Argentina]," he said. "We want to take more from our next fixtures and we’ve still got a lot of self-confidence."